Although I had known for many years that I wanted to climb Everest, and had been slowly developing my skill-base for just such an opportunity, it wasn't until October 2009 that I actually decided to make it a reality.
The problem with training for something that is (from October 2009's point of view) well over a year away is summoning the determination to keep up a good schedule. To help with this, I added little milestones to the year, to keep me motivated. This worked quite well. I trained, not for Everest, but for my next milestone, each one difficult enough to require serious training.
I also measured myself against other people, and how fit they were. I suppose this is natural, in some ways. I started off with my girlfriend Li, who I considered to be very fit. She went to the gym for well over an hour a day, most days. So this is where I started. And to be fair to the gym, it did get me much fitter. I also went for a 10k run once or twice a week, so I didn't become too dependant upon the gym.
In this way, when Li and I went mountaineering in Georgia mid way through 2010, I felt fairly sure I was her equal or better when it came to fitness. I also embarked upon the Scottish 4-star challenge at about this time, and squared up against people who, previously, had proved themselves much fitter than me. Now I was at about their standard. With these minor goals achieved, I then looked for someone else to measure myself against.
Morgan was the fittest guy I knew, who also knew me quite well. He would train, while at home, by running on sand dunes. During my training I occasionally went for hill runs with him, and never faired as well as he did (though I hid it well). I couldn't see a way to improving past him, though, as he had been training for years, and went to the gym every day without fail. It was in early December 2010 when luck favoured me and showed the way forward. I just had to get motivated enough to do it.